Hundreds of thousands of Muslims head to Saudi Arabia for the holy pilgrimage of Hajj. Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam and every able-bodied Muslim who can afford to is expected to make the pilgrimage at least once in their lifetime. This is when Hajj starts and ends this year.
Hajj 2019 starts on Friday, August 9 and ends on Wednesday, August 14.
Last year more than two million Muslims arrived in Mecca for Hajj.
During Hajj Mecca becomes one of the most densely-populated locations on earth as hundreds of thousands come together there to observe religious rituals.
The ritual of Hajj unites Muslims of all nationalities, ethnic groups and backgrounds to stand and worship together in the eyes of God.
The pilgrims are given special garments to wear which are meant to make them appear as equals, despite wealth and status.
During Hajj Muslims come together in front of Kaaba – Islam’s most important mosque.
According to Islamic tradition, the Kaaba – a black silk-clad stone structure at the heart of the Grand Mosque in Mecca – was built by the Prophet Abraham in biblical times.
Around two million Muslims took part in Hajj last year.
Sex, smoking, swearing and disagreements are among the things banned during the Hajj.
Hajj is a huge strategic operation due to the vast number of people who participate.
Last year, about 1,535 flights carried pilgrims to Saudi airports, with more arriving over land and sea.
The five-day holy pilgrimage is associated with the life of Islamic prophet Muhammad.